The Ikes of Charles City work to educate

By Thomas Nelson,

The Ikes have been a staple of Charles City for years.

The Izaak Walton League of America is a national conservation group committed to education and activity. It has about 60 members in Charles City.

“About half are active,” said Larry Hibbs, Izaak Walton League member.

On Feb. 9, the Ikes, as they call themselves, made wood duck and blue bird houses last week. The bird houses are part of an on going project.

“We have over 100 wood duck houses on posts,” Dave Nehls, Charles City Ikes president, said. “It’s one of our bigger projects.”

The material for the houses was supplied by Ron Boggess, who cut old utility poles into planks at his Floyd sawmill.

The meeting was at Dave Bahe’s home workshop. Bahe is an Ikes member as well as a retired Charles City police officer and firefighter.

It was one of their monthly meetings — held the second Thursday of every month — where they talk about conservation and ways to help the community.

The Ikes started in 1920’s when a group of men began meeting with the idea of creating an organization that cared about clean water and saving the environment, Hibbs said.

The name Izaak Walton is from an Englishman who wrote a book called “The Compleat Angler.”

“Of all the conservation groups that you could think of, this one sometimes has an identity crisis, because nobody knows who … Izaak Walton is,” Hibbs said.

The state of Iowa had, at one time, the most members of any of the states in the U.S., Hibbs said.

The Ikes don’t have a clubhouse in Charles City, they usually meet in the Knights of Columbus hall.

They will be helping with Project AWARE this year in July.

“One of our board members is serving on the committee,” Nehls said.

The Ikes work directly with the community to help promote conservation.

“We’ve taught hunter education courses, put on youth fishing clinics, information programs,” Hibbs said

On March 25 the Ikes will be presenting a hunter education course from 9:15 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Nashua Fish and Game Club.

The course will consist of a field day where, after taking an online course, people can come learn how to handle a weapon and proper hunting procedures.

Anyone who wants to join the Ikes only needs to contact Randy Vandeventer, the membership chairman. There is a membership fee of $67.

There is also a Monarch project that the Ikes take part in where they hand out milkweed seed at Ace Hardware. The goal is to grow the butterfly population.

A $500 scholarship is given by the Ikes to a graduating high school senior that is going into conservation.

“We’re pretty active,” Nehls said. “We’ve got a pretty dedicated bunch.”